2000 BCE Sulfur

The book of science

Tom Sharp

China, India elements


Atomic number 16

Ode to allicin

  • O Allicin, O Allicin, O Allicin,
  • thy aroma has abundant nose!
  • O Allicin, O Garlic,
  • thy bountiful goodness the whole earth knows!
  • Thou art infused with virtue,
  • but what is it due to?
  • Antibacterial, antifungal,
  • antiseptic, antiviral, antiprotozoal,
  • anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory,
  • also an antioxidant,
  • thou art the rustic’s cure-all;
  • helping all endure all.
  • O Garlic, thy alliinase converts alliin
  • into allicin.
  • Whether minced, chopped, mashed, or whole,
  • I thy praises do extol.
  • Garlic-stuffed olives, garlic pies,
  • garlic bread, garlic fries,
  • garlic chicken, seafood, and potatoes,
  • garlic green beans, mushrooms, and tomatoes,
  • once we add our garlic sauce,
  • we are never at a loss,
  • three-garlic pasta with three garlics spiced
  • roasted, diced, and sliced.
  • Smoked, pureed, or granulated good
  • not just flavoring but food.
  • The Greeks placed piles of garlic
  • on piles of stones at crossroads—
  • food for triple-bodied Hecate.
  • Folk in Europe warded off
  • vampires, demons, and werewolves with garlic,
  • and used it to cure a cough.
  • Garlic symbolizes medicine
  • each New Year in Afghanistan—
  • also in Central Asia and Iran.
  • O Allicin, O Allicin, O Allicin,
  • O Garlic O Garlic O Garlic,
  • O, O, O!

Common sulfur is pale yellow and composed of a mixture of elemental sulfur and rings, mainly rings of eight (a.k.a. octasulfur, cyclo-S8) but also rings of seven and six. Elemental sulfur is bright yellow. Sulfur burns with a blue flame and melted sulfur is red. S42+ is deep blue; S192+ is red. Compounds can be blue (lapis lazuli’s radical ion S3-) gold (iron pyrite FeS2), or vermilion (cinnabar’s mercuric sulfide, HgS).

The active ingredient in garlic is 2-Propene-1-sulfinothioic acid S-2-propenyl ester, a.k.a. allicin.

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